Cold puts kids at high risk of viral diarrhoea

Kathmandu, January 28

Cold weather has posed health risks to people, with children below five years of age, in particular, being prone to viral diarrhoea in the country, doctors have cautioned.

Of the total 600 patients admitted to the out-patient department at Kanti Children’s Hospital daily, Maharajgunj, 20 per cent are children suffering from viral diarrhoea, the hospital said.

According to Dr Sujit Kumar Shrestha, consultant paediatrician at Om Hospital and Research Centre, Chabahil, from among 80 patients visiting the OPD at the hospital, 15 per cent children are found to be suffering from viral diarrhoea.

Rota viral diarrhoea is common among children in the winter season. Children below two years of age are more prone to the disease. “At first, children suffer from episode of vomiting, then they complain of stomach pain before an eventual onset of diarrhoea,” the doctor said.

“If a child has viral diarrhoea for the first time then the diarrhoeal episode could last from five to seven days. Though in repeated cases it lasts shorter from three to five days or even for a day as the immunity starts developing after the first episode,” said Dr Shrestha.

The diarrahoea could be mild, moderate and severe. “If the child can’t eat anything, can’t replace water in his/her body, if there is less circulation of blood in the body and if the blood pressure has lowered then it is a severe condition. The children need immediate medical intervention then,” said Dr Shrestha.

If the eyes and tongue of children become dry and urine stops passing, then they should immediately be taken to hospital.

There are chances of renal failure, too, when the child is dehydrated. Severe dehydration could even lead to mortality.

Poor hygiene and sanitation aggravate chances of the spread of diarrhoea. If immediate steps are not taken, the lives of babies could be in danger. Therefore, mothers and caretakers should maintain hygiene and sanitation in the vicinity to help prevent diarrhoea in children.

“Children who are fed from bottle are more likely to suffer from the disease as hygiene isn’t properly maintained. The bottle should be properly washed and boiled before putting the formula milk in it,” said the doctor.

Efforts should be made to compensate for loss of water and minerals due to vomiting and loose  motion. Babies should be frequently breast-fed while other children  should be frequently fed with oral rehydrated solution. An immediate visit to doctor is necessary for timely management of viral diarrhoea in children.

“Viral diarrhoea can be prevented among children by vaccinating them. The vaccines are available at health centres,” the doctor said.